Iíll show you a very good Old Testament timeline which is available online. But there seem to be two slightly different timeline variants. The differences are examined and the accuracy of the millennium periods is considered. But most of all, the pivotal event of all history is established at the Cross, and not at the birth of Jesus.
You will probably want to view some timelines to verify what I suggest. A web search for ďbible timelineĒ will give many hits. Here is one I found that is fairly clear and downloadable. Please respect its copyright.
Once you see that this timeline forms the basis for my own Pictorial timeline in Appendix A1, then that simplified pictorial timeline will be all you need in most places. However, this timeline is particularly good at showing you the post flood details.
I have noticed that most Bible timelines seem to fall into two groups. I have been using the above timeline which is based on the work of James Ussher in 1650 AD. I have also observed that the timeline in my NIV Study Bible has some differences. I also noticed other references that use the same chronology as the NIV Study Bible, and I assume they have some common source. Initially I was not too worried about the differences, but I think it is worth looking into because some will seek to discredit the importance of what I suggest this book by discrediting the chronology I have used.
|Crucifixion||AD 33||AD 30||
|Exile begins||588 BC||586 BC||2|
|Davidís reign starts||1055 BC||1010 BC||45 (Note 1)|
|Enter Promised Land||1451 BC||1406 BC||45 (Note 2)|
|Abraham born||1996 BC||2166 BC||170 (Note 3)|
|Adam created||4004 BC||(not shown)||170 (Note 5)|
My NIV Study Bible claimed that Davidís reign was ďhistorically verifiableĒ. Obviously, I would favour the Study date which is closer to 1000 BC because that fits Godís Timetable best, but in my own pictorial timeline I have stuck with the Ussher dates. To pick and choose between different chronologies to suit my model is like a self-fulfilling prophesy. In any case, the difference is not really significant on the millennium scale.
I really did not want to move away from the Ussher timeline, which seemed more Biblically based, just because of seeming confirmation from the chronology of other civilisations. However, Ussher did use other chronologies (wiki/James_Ussher) and did see the completion of the temple by Solomon almost exactly 1000 BC. So you need to understand that assumptions are being made in any chronology you view. I discuss this further in point 4.
1 Kings 6:1 is extremely important in Biblical chronologies. It clearly states that there were 479 years from exiting Egypt to the 4th year of Solomonís reign. Israel was 40 years in the desert between exiting Egypt and entering the Promised Land. David reigned 40 years before Solomon. Both sources preserve these offsets. So the date of the Exodus just depends on when you assume the reigns of David and Solomon started.
Ussher seems to have a strong Biblical precedent to set Abrahamís birth at 40+430+75 years before arriving in the Promised Land. The 40 years is the time in the desert during the Exodus; the 430 years is from God making a promise to Abraham, to his descendants leaving Egypt (Galatians 3:16-18); and the 75 is the presumed age of Abraham when he had this vision. But this has some small amount of flexibility because it depends when Abraham had his vision in Genesis 15:12-14. The Ussher dates seem to assume this was when Abraham first left Haran at the age of 75 in Genesis 12. But this could easily have been 10 to 15 years after he left Haran because of all the events prior to Genesis 15.
After the first release of the book, I noticed that Genesis 16 must have followed immediately after Abrahamís vision in chapter 15. It dealt with the same issue, namely that Abraham had no heir, and so Sarai offers Hagar to him. At the end of chapter 16 we see that Abraham, (then Abram), was 86 at the birth of Ishmael. Hence it is highly likely that Abraham was 85 years old when he had the vision in Genesis 15. I could now see some precedent to stretch the Ussher date back 10 years, but not back 170 years to 2166 BC.
Now my NIV Study Bible does insert a note about these early biblical periods, saying that they were approximations that depended on various interpretations of different scholars. Also that it is depended on Mesopotamian and Egyptian chronology. In other words, itís intelligent guesswork that might be wrong and is not sourced from the Bible. This is my primary reason for sticking with the Ussher timeline. But I have to admit, chronologies are a bit vague. The 430 years is mentioned again in Exodus 12:40-41 but there it seems to be the time from Jacob entering Egypt to the Exodus. Jacob was 130 years old at that time, which puts it 290 years after Abrahamís birth. That gives a date of 2211 BC for Abrahamís birth, even earlier than the Study date. Did I miss something? Did Paul, who wrote Galatians, know something I missed? Iíll stick with Paul. I accept that chronologies in this millennium are not definitive but are ball-park accurate.
Suppose that my Study Bible date for the start of Davidís reign, 1010 BC, some 45 years after the Ussher date, is correct. I still wanted to stick with the Ussher timetable pre-David, since this has sound Biblical precedent. So this would bring Abrahamís birth forward 45 years from 1996 to 1951 BC. Then push this back 10 years as I have just described in point 3. That would put Abrahamís birth at 1961 BC Ė 1,991 (close enough to 2,000) years before Jesusí crucifixion!
If you accept Davidís reign starting at 1010 BC then Solomonís reign starts at 970 BC, then the temple foundation is laid in about 967 BC. This is 997 years before Jesusí crucifixion at 30AD. Jesus likened his death and resurrection to tearing down and rebuilding the temple (John 2:19-21). The apostle Paul set Jesusí death and resurrection as the foundation of his preaching (1 Corinthians 3:10-11 & 2:1-2). So that would make almost exactly 1,000 years from the temple foundation to Jesusí resurrection.
I personally did not set out to try and play the numbers to reinforce my point. I have been open about the uncertainty in the exact date of Abrahamís birth. But I mention this because it really does look like God, not just me, has been establishing critical milestones at millennia boundaries either side of Jesusí crucifixion and resurrection, and perhaps more accurately than we would care to admit.
The time from Adam to Abraham is 2009 years. This is rock solid Bible. You could perhaps argue plus or minus a decade for accumulated fractions of a year, for example, Adam might have been 130 years and 6 months when he had Seth, but there is just no doubting the 2 millennia between these events. My Study Bible timeline only went back to Abraham and I am now a little disappointed that it did not put in the very clear chronology back to Adam.
So really, there is no room to discredit the timeline I have used. I do make some simplifications, but nothing that deviates from the Ussher timeline. I tend to use round numbers in Godís Timetable, and start things at 4000 BC.
Of the 4 millennium periods from Adam to Jesus, most are accurate to within about 40 years. Only the millennium starting at Abrahamís birth has a larger variance Ė up to 200 years using the Study timeline. With a bit of picking and choosing you can get the variance down to around 10 years. Thatís just 1%.
However, the accuracy really does not matter BC. There are clear millennium long periods. The only reason to consider accuracy, or should I say consistency, is when we wonder just how precise will be the AD millennia steps? With this question in mind I offer two thoughts:
Donít be caught napping, betting that it will be well above the nominal mark. This timetable gives us more reason to be alert and no excuses.
When we look at Abraham, Moses, David and Jesus, who ushered in the major BC millennia and half-millennia changes, I notice that all seemed to be ready well before they fulfilled their calling. It seems like God put all of human history on hold while He tested and refined them. It is my opinion that we are in, or on the verge of such times, as Jesus prepares his bride. (Itís July 2011 as I make this comment.)
I use Jesusí crucifixion, AD 30, as the changeover date for millennia BC to AD. Awesome as it was for God to send His Son in human likeness at Jesusí birth in about 5 or 6 BC; it was Jesusí crucifixion that was the pivot point in all human history. It was his death and resurrection that is most accurately dated and fulfils 4 of the 7 major Jewish festivals: Passover; Unleavened Bread; First Fruits; and Pentecost (or Weeks). It was the Cross that made it possible for us to be reconciled to God.
In addition, I give great emphasis to the crucifixion date because God clearly chose the date. God chose when to send His word to John the Baptist which was the key that started Jesusí ministry. When Jesus was transfigured in Luke 9:28-31, God sent Moses and Elijah to confirm the exact year that Jesus was to die in Jerusalem. God chose the very day. All of Israel and the world knows that day.
God started a lineage through Adam, and then through Noah and then through Abraham. In general, the Bible would refer to events in their lives with words like, ďWhen ... had lived ... yearsĒ such and such happened. God is relating events back to their birth. It is always specific about the exact number of years, right down from Adam to Abraham. But we see no such precise descriptions of events against Jesusí age. But that is because Jesus was not sent to start a new lineage. Rather, Jesus was sent to start a new Kingdom.
In regard to the kings of Israel, the dates were always ďin the ... year of his reignĒ. When one king dies and a new king took his place there was a transfer of authority and a new datum for measuring time against. After Jesus was baptised by John, he started to minister with authority to drive out demons and to heal the sick. Here are a couple of stories I have heard to show the significance of his baptism. They have to do with God declaring to the people:
ď... This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.Ē (Matthew 3:17)
Jesusí baptism was really a coronation service where Jesus was presented by God to Israel.
There was a Jewish custom where a man would bring his son before the elders when he was happy that his son was responsible to represent him and that he would stand by any decision his son made. In effect, his son was authorised to speak for him.
After Jesusí baptism he was tempted by Satan, who claimed to have the power/authority in this world (Luke 4:6). This is what Adam gave away and what Jesus won back. After Jesus was resurrected he declared in Matthew 28:18 that, ďAll authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.Ē
So both the start and end of Jesusí ministry saw authority transferred to him. And when Jesus returns to rule and reign for 1,000 years it is also an authority issue. Since dates in regard to a king start when his reign commenced, so too dates pertaining to the reign of Jesus start at the crucifixion and resurrection. Since this chapter is all about seeing the 2,000-year steps I thought I would prompt your mathematical skills to remind you that 2,000 years since the reign of Jesus began is 2030.